The Princess and the Weeb

We interrupt your regularly scheduled shenanigans to give you abnormal shenanigans in the form of a dorky narrative. (This is essentially being written as an extension of the copious amounts of NaNoWriMo writing that Finn and I have gotten done today, hehe.)

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Katniss.

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She was an adorable little angel.

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She had an older sister named June.

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June was a giant weeb.

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Katniss knew that June was a weeb, and it pained her greatly.

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But she loved her anyway.

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The end.

(This was written as a photo dump for Katniss’s beautiful selfies, which she wanted the world to see, and my cosplay progress pictures, which show my shoddy attempts at making a Kurapika costume. Also, Katniss spent the whole day sitting on me, so I felt it appropriate to mention here. Yes, I realize that this isn’t relevant information. Whatever. I do what I want.)

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A Japanese Learner’s Dream

There is a certain type of person with which you are probably acquainted. If you know me, you certainly are. If you’re getting your toes wet with a popular show that you may not even realize is an anime (this was Pokémon, in my day), you may be converting soon without even realizing it.

That’s right, I’m talking about the otaku.

“Otaku” is the term used (in Western culture) to refer to those annoying geeks who basically do nothing but watch and read anime and manga. I’m talking about those nerds with all of the buttons and plushies, the ones that randomly insert Japanese words into conversation (Sugooooiii~! Kawaiii!). In Japan, the term apparently carries a much more negative meaning (apparently arising from the honorific form of “house,” implying that people of this type are “reluctant to leave their houses“), but that, of course, doesn’t dissuade the Westerners who adopt it, declare it, literally live it.

Why do I bring this up? Because often otaku become Japanese learners and, less rarely, vice versa. I am one of the few in which this mutation occurred backwardly—I began as a simple student of many languages and, as I honed in on Japanese, mutated into the kind of person who screams “kawaii” at pictures of anime couples.

(You think I’m kidding. 90% of my “abnormal” Japanese vocabulary comes from anime—I can tell you how to say “Hey, hey, Papa, can I have some wine?” [ねえねえPAPA、ワインをちょうだい?] and “Equivalent Exchange” [等価交換], but not something simple, like, for example, “Chemistry is magic.”)

My friends will readily tell you that I easily fall within the category of “otaku.” I have entire playlists dedicated to Japanese music (in fact, I used to go to sleep with the Fullmetal Alchemist soundtrack playing in the background); I’ve planned multiple cosplays and actually staffed a convention, and fangirl simply being in the same room as a person from Japan. Since returning to campus, I have been to multiple events that have brought tears to my little otaku eyes.

The first was a Japanese movie night hosted by our Japanese department. My professor and his wife (also a professor) screened 「ダーリンは外国人」(My Darling Is a Foreigner) in a lecture hall. All sorts of people showed up, with all levels of Japanese skill—several 101 students, some 201 students, and even native speakers gathered round to drink sweet tea, eat matcha ice cream, and watch a romantic comedy together. We laughed at Saori’s long, shrieking cries of “Toniii!!” together. We cringed at Tony’s friends’ complete cultural incompetence together. There was something enchanting about the experience, the experience of all of these aspiring language learners and speakers gathered together to giggle over bad jokes, that reminded me what my goal is in the long run.

The second was a visit to the Japanese table, a group of people that meets every Friday in our cafeteria to casually converse over lunch. A good number of native Japanese speakers show up for this, including exchange students and my professors, as well as a lot of undergraduate (and even some graduate, I believe?) Japanese learners. I visited the table last semester briefly, as a humble 101 student with little but “hello” and “goodbye” under my belt, and was turned away by the feeling of oppressive incompetence. However, I decided to give it another go, and I was not disappointed.

I took my seat by my professor from last year, who smiled warmly at me and greeted me and then promptly began speaking to a 201 student beside her in Japanese. I picked at my food and attempted to interject myself whenever I was able, agreeing to statements such as “Kanji are hard” and “I understand more than I speak.” At one point the man sitting beside me, a fluent speaker, asked me why I decided to learn Japanese, and I responded brokenly (or at least I hope I did) with an overenthusiastic, “Because I love it!”

I sat for a good hour, absorbing, laughing occasionally at jokes that I understood (no, sensei is not a vegetable, teehee), before I gathered my dishes and slipped out the door with a “Sayounara!” tossed at me and a “Ja, mata!” tossed back in return. I felt positively ecstatic, having sat between two native speakers (the other was a girl who had said, “Keep practicing your Japanese! I’m still learning, too” and who had earned a round of laughter from my professors before she corrected it to, “English, I mean!”) and actually understood some conversation. Everyone had been so pleasant, and everyone seemed to be friends, and it didn’t matter how terrible you actually were, because, hey, at least you were trying.

I had gotten so engrossed that, when I ran into Clara (who speaks fluent Mandarin and Japanese) in Starbucks, I responded to her, “Just come back from lunch, June?” with a fervent, “Hai!”

Right, I went through all of this effort, all of this setup and defining, to tell you that I really love getting tastes of my greater goal of fluency. What’s the big deal?

I don’t know, maybe nothing, for most people. Still, for me, a person exceptionally determined to speak Japanese (it will happen, it’s just a matter of when), it was inspiring and encouraging.

Moral of the story? Learn a language. Learn a language you love. Then go out and use it, darn it, no matter how American you sound, because people are great and communication is beautiful and the language barrier is something that can be torn down.

[ahem] Anyway.

I think I’ll go mess with Textfugu now.

A bad idea, considering I have a bio test Thursday?

You’re probably right.

(I guess, right now, I shouldn’t do what I want.)

People-Pleaser

And now,  a word from our easily-distracted and often-absent writer, June Watson.


People say you shouldn’t change to please others. “Adults” of ages nineteen and twenty are the world’s champions of individuality. Permutations and translations of the phrases, “Stick it to the man!” and “I do what I want!” echo throughout young adult culture. Freshmen biology students would rather argue with their professors (all with doctorates or masters) than sit silent as their ideals or opinions are attacked. Sophomores, barely grown, contradict historical statements made by those old enough to have lived through it. Anyone whose opinion coincides with popular opinion is branded a hypocrite.

I’m certainly one of the most guilty when it comes to championing individuality. I sing in Japanese in public, wear my pajamas into fancy restaurants, design languages in my spare time and play Pathfinder (basically Dungeons & Dragons) into the wee hours of the morning on the weekends. Yet, those things say little about my personality; all that can really be deduced from these things is that I don’t really care if people think that I’m a nerd, and I am, in fact, a very nerdy individual.

No, I believe one of the most defining characteristics of my personality is that I can be a bit of a doormat. My friends tease me about not standing up for myself, and, in fact, being pretty stubborn about it—just yesterday, as my roommate and I walked toward chemistry while I was limping with a sharp stitch in my side, she said, “You wouldn’t tell me if you weren’t fine, would you? Nope. Didn’t think so.” I don’t like to put my needs above others, not out of selflessness or benevolence, but because I’m too stubborn to admit when I want or need help.

Perhaps the strongest element of my personality, however, is one that I’m not sure is readily visible to people that don’t know me—I want to please people. I want to entertain people. I want to make people happy.

“People-pleaser,” my classmates call me when I take every word of my professor’s advice. They say that I’m betraying my own morals to make others happy. They say I should stand up for myself.

Yet, they don’t seem to understand something central to who I am—one belief central to my personality is that making others happy is possibly one of the best things a person can do. My friends, the introverts, don’t quite understand, and I don’t blame them. I live in a different world than most other, more realistic, people, an extroverted and idealistic world where every person is worth putting effort into. I realize that there are plenty of terrible people in the world, but, in my experience, it is extremely difficult to separate the good from the bad until you give a person a chance.

I want to change for others. Changing to please others is part of who I am. I want to be the “Hey, I just met you, but—” in a crowd of uninterested students that makes a person feel noticed. I want to be the vague acquaintance who buys a lab partner coffee and ends up helping them work through a problem that’s been weighing on their mind. I want to be the stranger who says something so unexpectedly kind that it’s carried with a person for months or years afterwards. I want to be the friend who says, “You are so entirely, unbearably weird, but I’m cool with it.”

I want to be all of the people who’ve done kind things for me.

There are plenty of things about myself that I refuse to change for other people. My personal beliefs (exceptionally hard beliefs to have in the field of biological sciences, turns out). My interests (Japanese video games, anyone?). My aspirations. But as far as my manner of interacting with other people, I’d gladly change that any day of the week.

Call me a people-pleaser if you must—I usually take it as a compliment.


 

Sorry for the weird rant about making people happy. This week many lovely people have helped me and encouraged me in unexpected ways, and I guess I was thinking about how much I’d like to be like them. Also, I’m baaaaaack!

A Quirky Wedding

Today Finn, Fritz, Pinky, Eric and I went to our local anime convention to observe fellow enthusiasts, look at art and enroll in a Pokémon tournament. What we ended up doing instead was attending the Conchair’s wedding.

It was an interesting experience, to say the least. For thirty minutes, people of all ages and in all manner of costumes stood in the hallway, exchanging Con-themed trading cards and taking pictures of each others’ cosplays. When we finally were allowed in, we were filed into a room with rows of blue, stackable chairs lined up in front of a projection screen.

Music began playing, a piano rendition of what I believe was the theme song to Beauty and the Beast. Bridesmaids filed in with escorts, all in pretty red dresses. A woman in a similar dress walked calmly down the aisle as the ring bearer.

Suddenly, the very familiar shout of a robotic “ex-ter-mi-nate” echoed through the room, and we twisted around in our chairs to see a giant gold Dalek being driven down the aisle by a man in a Matt Smith costume, spitting flower petals and muttering incomprehensibly about being the flower girl.

The bride was escorted down the aisle, past the Dalek and onto the stage next to the groom. At this moment, I allowed myself to pause and consider the situation. The entire room was full of teenagers and young adults in costume, some with rainbow-colored hair, others with cat ears or tulle skirts. I thought to myself, “In a way, this is sweet—they’re getting married surrounded by the people who attend the convention they pour their hearts into.”

Then the hologram appeared to marry them.

Hatsune Miku herself, the Japanese pop sensation and most popular voice synthesizer software on the planet, probably, was standing between the bride and groom. She accidentally interrupted the two several times in broken, robotic English almost too difficult to understand without the cheering of the people in the audience.

All in all, though, it was a pretty heart-warming experience. They do, indeed, get to say they had the Doctor at their wedding, and that they were surrounded by every anime character imaginable.

In the end, shouldn’t people getting married be allowed to do what they want?

Many Friends, All Lovely

A late-night musing before I go off to study chemistry.

I have many types of friends.

I have the friend who messages me regularly to make sure I’ve eaten and slept.

I have the friend who knows exactly how I feel and exactly what to say to make me feel better.

I have the friend who gets me into all sorts of trouble, but always manages to get us out of it somehow.

I have the friend who messages me life updates long-distance.

I have the friend who shouts my name whenever we pass each other in the hall.

I have the friend who pats me on the shoulder and says, “Hello, dear.”

I have the friend who tells me I’m “such a sweetheart” and that I’m a welcome face.

I have the friend who shares a very strong mutual interest that we can’t stop talking about.

I have the friend who laughs when I procrastinate and says, “This is why you can’t have nice things, June!”

I have many friends, and they are all lovely.

A Guide to College in Gifs

Over the length of my absence, I have experienced unmeasurable amounts of stress, amusement, and sleep-deprivation. I thought to myself this morning that it could all be summed up using gifs. Now that I’m back, I thought I’d share this summary with the world! Please enjoy!

(Notice: I don’t own any of these shows. Please don’t sue me.)

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A Guide to College in Gifs

Seeing the Dorm for the First Time:

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First Day Unattended:

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Weekend Before Classes Start:

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First Week:

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First Class:

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How Parents Start Acting:

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When You Realize You Spend More Time With That One Friend Than Studying:

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Trying to Find the Answer to A Question For a Chemistry Assignment:

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When Someone Asks A Stupid Question in Class:

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When You Get A Bad Paper Back:

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When You Get A Good Paper Back:

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When You Miss Points on Simple Math:

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Weekend’s Coming!:

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Midterms Week:

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At The Store After Midterms Week:

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Trying to Explain Something to Someone Not In Your Major:

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Eating At Home For The Weekend:

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Assignment You Forgot About:

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When You Meet A Good Person:

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When You Meet A Not-Good Person:

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When You and Your Friend Try to Go Downtown:

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When People Ask Why You Like Hard Classes:

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When You Realize You Still Have A Month Until Thanksgiving:

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What You Feel Most of the Time:

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What You Feel Always:

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Happy Birthday to Tippy!

Yesterday was Tippy’s eighteenth birthday! Happy birthday, Tippy! Now you can legally vote, drink in some Canadian provinces, sign your own medical release forms and buy lottery tickets in Tennessee. Congratulations~!

(“Believe me, I am still alive.” I’m just busy finishing homework and doing what I want!)